EXPERIMENT — Don’t Be Afraid to Try New Things

When the only constant is change, we must try new things.  In our attractions world, innovation is essential to our survival.  To be successful, we must keep abreast of what’s new, experiment, evaluate, and reassess.  Here are a few great topics that I’ve written on in the past and that continue to be part of any great revenue strategy:

Seasonal and Dynamic Pricing.
For years, both the hotel and airline industries have used dynamic pricing to focus demand and to grow revenue.  In the same way, dynamic pricing can be implemented at any front gate to spread out the crowds (value-minded guests visit on slower, lower-priced days) and to grow revenue (price-resistant guests visit on peak days/don’t mind paying the higher gate fee).


Just last year, the Walt Disney Company introduced seasonal pricing at both Disneyland and at their Disney World parks.  At Disney World, seasonal pricing creates three pricing tiers for one-day theme park tickets: value, regular, and peak days. Disney bases their pricing on crowd size, assigning days into one of these three price tiers.  By doing this, Disney defines their single day tickets for use on one specific date.


According to a May 2016 article in the Orlando Sentinel, “Higher per-guest spending – pricier tickets, more money shelled out on merchandise and higher hotel room rates – accounted for a 4 percent revenue gain in Disney’s park-and-resort division. ”  That’s exactly what seasonal and dynamic pricing should do-create a more enjoyable park experience by spreading out the park’s demand.


Universal Orlando Resort has been dynamically pricing their front-of-the-line pass program–called Universal Express-for years.  Guests who purchase this pass can wait less and ride more by skipping the regular lines.  Universal Express is a great example of how dynamic pricing can be used to sell a premium service.  Depending on the time of year, the Universal Express Pass can cost from as little as $24.99 per day to greater than $100 per day.  Just as a lobster at a fine dining restaurant might vary in price depending on season and availability (Market Price), the Universal Express Pass is priced based on demand-it sells truly as a function of what the market will bear.


Another example of dynamically priced products is found at the Indianapolis Zoo.  This zoo was the first in the nation to fully embrace the concept of dynamic pricing for their front gate admission products.  Here’s how it works:  “As ticket sales increase for a given day, the formula gradually increases the price of admission, moderating demand for admission on a specific day. Compared to the static prices of $10.95 per winter-season day and $17.95 per summer-season day offered prior to 2014, admission prices now typically range between $8.20 and $29.95 over the course of the year. ”  The zoo’s dynamic pricing program has been highly successful, resulting in more evenly spread out attendance patterns along with higher front gate revenues.


Behind the Scenes Tours
At the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Illinois, guests can go on a WOW Tour, a guided tour that takes guests behind the scenes to some of the museum’s most famous and popular attractions.  MSI’s website describes the tour this way:  “Led by an energetic MSI facilitator, you’ll learn fun and little-known facts about the Coal Mine, the Baby Chicks, the 727 and more. You’ll also go behind-the-scenes into Museum offices and work spaces, and enjoy exclusive access to areas not open to the general public.”  This simple, one-hour tour doesn’t take a whole lot of resources to run and yet it’s one of the more unique ways to see this vast and amazing museum.


At Jungle Island in Miami, they offer a similar way engaging their guests in unique and immersive experiences.  The park offers three behind-the-scenes tours:  Go Wild, Go Wilder, and The Ultimate Jungle Trek.  Each tour is increasingly longer in duration,  more immersive animal engagement, and higher in price.  Tours start at $299 per person with the Ultimate Jungle Trek topping out at $699 per person.


Limited Capacity
Over the past several years, hotels and water parks alike have mastered the ability to sell poolside luxury cabanas.  These cabanas can be simply luxurious, offering amenities from a flat-screen television, a fully stocked mini-fridge, towel service, privacy curtains, and food/beverage service.  However, the biggest selling point for these cabanas is there exclusivity.  Because they are limited capacity–a finite number of cabanas are available for sale–they can be both capacity controlled and dynamically priced.


Limited capacity sale opportunities exist in many aspects of our attractions world including:
  • Ziplines and adventure courses
  • Select water-based activities
  • Front of the line passes/reserved show seating
  • Animal encounters (including giraffe and other animal feedings)
  • VIP/Behind the Scenes Tours
  • Theatrical Experiences
  • Birthday Parties
Exclusive Events
As responsible attraction operators, we must appreciate our local market and do everything that we can to ensure that locals are our number one fans.  I tell all of my clients that “we want every local to become a member.”  To that end, it’s always helpful during the point of sale conversation, to be able to share the special opportunities and exclusive events that they can enjoy as an added perk of membership.  Here are some great examples of how some attractions use perks to add value to their membership and annual pass products:


  • MSI Chicago presents an exclusive President’s Breakfast once per year to Preferred and Premium Members
  • Disney offers their passholders special previews of new attractions and holiday programs
  • Universal Orlando offers Annual Passholder viewing for parades and night-time shows.


The bottom line here is that if you have exclusive events or special activities that members will get excited about, you can use those to your advantage.  Remember that members can be both your harshest critics as well as your most raving fans.  That’s why it’s important to let them know that you are always appreciative of them as well as their feedback.  A strong and happy membership base can be an attraction’s greatest marketing tool.


Have a great week!